WILLIAM Y02? JttOIBOLDT. 2^5
and reason. This romantic feature was combined
with, the most peaceful cheerfulness, and her truly
feminine gentleness was joined to a real strength of
soul. "When Hunaboldt lost Ms eldest son in Eonie,
Schiller at once felt convinced that the afflicted
mother would rise above this heavy grief. He wrote
to his friend at the time : " A. strong soul with a fine,
tender sensibility, is certainly the happiest gift of
Providence, it has been granted to her, and so she
will be able to bear the unalterable/' Humboldt
thought the description very apt, and replied: " Her
nature has remained true to itself, even in this crisis, .
There is nothing sullen or darkly melancholy in her:
as you justly observe,, dear Schiller, she is a strong
soul, with the finest, tenderest sensibility/' And.,
from all letters and other testimonies which we have,
she always appears as a loving, tender mother, and as
an affectionate and anxious nurse.
In society she occupied a no less prominent position.
She possessed all the qualities of mind, grace, amia-
bility, and conversational power, which could make
her the central attraction of an extensive circle, and
possessed them in such a high degree that she com-
pensated for any wants of her husband in this respect.
Humboldt was master in the ait of social intercourse,
but practised this quality, in its attracting or repellant
form, so arbitrarily and so consciously, that one in-
Toluntarily approached him very warily, and would
have frequently, without this caution, been much.
disappointed. Humboldt only gave himself, frankly
and freely, to a few favourite friends, and esteemed
fellow-students. Indifferent persons had frequently
to feel his superiority, or his temporary aversion, in
supercilious sarcasm or veiled irony, without being ia
the least able to oppose the skilful master in the art*
But Ms wife was, on the contrary, a thoroughly social
character, born to shed love and friendship in the
richest profusion. In the early portion of their mar-
ried life, when Humboldt lived only for science* litera-
ture, and a very select circle of congenial friends^ she